Vacation with kids is certainly an adventure!
We are only 6+ years into this journey of parenting, but this year we decided to ditch the big family vacation and enjoy a week-long staycation.
Over Memorial Day weekend we decided that our 1-year-old was too little for a loooongg car ride out West, down South, up North…basically any direction.
Perhaps you’re in a similar boat, (or wish to be!) this summer. If you have 3 under 6 years old like we do, I applaud those who are very adventurous and DO venture for the long car/airplane/train/cruise ride to a monument, museum, attraction, or point of interest that is many miles away and lots of moolah in the long run. I speak from experience.
In 2017, I was pregnant with my 4th son, (the impatient 1-year-old above), and we had the brilliant idea to venture west to the grandest of grand vacations….THE GRAND CANYON! I had never seen this Wonder of The World, but pictures spoke a million words to me and I knew we were going to have the hap-hap-happiest family vacation since Danny Kaye…well, you get the idea.
Maybe I was a little TOO Clark Griswold-y in my preparation because I intended that my kids would LOVE riding across the great plains of the USA. They were 4 and 1 at the time. Truly brilliant on my part….No technology! Car DVD players?! We don’t need no stinking car DVD players! This is family quality time, and look! Crayons!!
About an hour and 45 minutes into our GRAND adventure, I called MY mom crying!! (That could have been due partly to hormones…)
The poor babies were so uncomfortable in their car seats for such a long period of time and you can only read the same books so many times before WELCOME TO MELTDOWN CITY. If you’ve traveled through Kansas and Oklahoma, you are already aware there are 0 radio stations, and 0 places to stop for bathroom breaks. It was the first time in forever that we had to pull out the ‘ol Rand McNally and put our 8th grade map reading skills to use, and it was the first time I saw a sign for an approaching city with a smaller sign underneath saying, “No Services Available.” By the time we made it to the Railway Resort, we were exhausted, but it was like a long lost oasis best friend that welcomed us with open arms.
The Canyon itself was incredible, but I definitely want to go back NOT pregnant, and not with 2 kids who couldn’t understand why Mommy wouldn’t let them anywhere near anything that resembled a cliff. (Here is Liam saying, “MOMMY! This is what it would be like if I fell over right now.” Boys…..)
One bright side was that I could announce Nigel’s upcoming birth with a pretty sweet reveal pic.
We can almost laugh about it now, but we are still pretty traumatized. 😉
When it came to the conjoined time off this summer, we opted for the staycation. It was SO relaxing, and full of quality time that my babies WILL remember. I DO think you should take your kids on lots of amazing adventures for all the learning opportunities, bits or big memories, and I believe it shapes them into the person they will be for the rest of their life. BUT I caution others to yield opportunities that can be missed with hectic busy schedules of daily life. When you have the chance to be home as a family, I still stand by my NO technology rule. There might be an exception for a movie night, but that’s only if it includes popcorn and a build your own sundae. Bust out the board games, make a craft, explore your neighborhood, visit grandparents, and take time to play Barbies, Batman, or Hot Wheels. When we were on vacation, we went to the zoo, visited a local beach, went out to eat a few times, grabbed froyo, visited family, and played at parks. It was super simple, but it was simply what our hearts needed. (And our wallets!!)
Great memories can be made hundreds of miles away, but some of the best are made right in your own living room. I don’t have all the answers, and would never pretend to, but I know that family time is a rarity, and it all flies by faster than I could ever wish. Give yourself permission to let the laundry pile up and hone in on equipping your kids with strong values of love and respect for the most important people in their lives. That way you won’t have to call your mom crying that you just want to be home, and not stuck in Lincoln, Nebraska.